Guilford County teachers express concerns about returning to the classroom

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GREENSBORO, N.C. — Some teachers are a bit terrified to return to the classroom, worried they could catch or spread the coronavirus.

Some Guilford County school teachers tell FOX8 they would like to see the number of cases of COVID-19 come down, especially in the Piedmont.

They know they have no control over that, but teachers say they would need a strong layer of protection to truly be confident when the first bell rings.

“PPE, masks and all of that. Because that’s what’s needed for us to be protected in our classrooms and our students more importantly,” Brent Davis said.

For the 15-year teaching veteran, it all comes down to the policies and procedures being put in place at Mendenhall Middle School in Greensboro.

“If the buildings are updated with new HVAC systems and so forth, and if they’re really taken care of and looked at, I think we can really start school in that place,” Davis said.

That boils down to money.

“That funding is people’s lives,” Davis said.

Guilford County school leaders told FOX8 in a recent interview they don’t have enough money to follow the state health guidelines for reopening schools.

“I think it would be a terrible ask to say to teachers and students and families that you must go back into these buildings, but we’re not going to make it safe for you,” Joanna Pendleton said.

She teaches at Brightwood Elementary School. Her children are also students there.

“We need all kinds of supplies as far as cleaning,” Pendleton said. “We need custodial staff to do the sanitation that is going to be necessary.”

If they don’t get what they need, Pendleton plans to put her family ahead of her career.

“I would probably look into some other options rather than going into the building and sending my kids into the building,” she said.

It’s a hard decision for teachers like Pendleton and Davis, who are committed to their calling.

“We really, really miss the students,” Davis said. “We would like to go back but only if it’s safe and healthy.”

Another thing teachers will have to address in the classroom is students wearing masks at all times and keeping a distance from friends and classmates.

The Guilford County School Board is planning on a vote later this month to decide if they go with Plan B, which is moderate social distancing, or Plan C, which is full remote learning.

Superintendent Dr. Sharon Contreras has already discussed the possibility of a five-week remote-learning start to the school year.

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